A Neighborhood Guide
Bridgeport, Chicago: A Neighborhood Guide
Published November 24, 2021
Chicago’s historic Bridgeport neighborhood isn’t exactly a tourist hotspot. The streets here are mostly quiet and residential. But don’t let that stop you from checking out this area! Anyone who ventures over is bound to discover a vibrant, multicultural community and one of Chicago’s most interesting culinary scenes.
Where is Bridgeport? The short answer is that it’s directly southwest of the Loop (downtown Chicago). To be more specific, the neighborhood is bounded by the Chicago River on the north, Bubbly Creek on the west, West Pershing Road on the south, and South Stewart Avenue on the east.
Bridgeport is a diverse part of Chicago that borders both Chinatown and Pilsen (an area known for its Latino heritage). This multiculturalism is reflected in Bridgeport’s wide array of culinary specialties, so this post will start off by featuring some of my favorite places to eat there. After that, I’ll mention some interesting coffee shops, and finally share some other noteworthy landmarks. To skip down to a note on safety, click or tap here.
Bridgeport's Underrated Food Scene
Many of Chicago’s 77 community areas are known for their own unique culinary specialties. And while that may be somewhat true of Bridgeport, I think this area’s dining options have flown under the radar of most Chicagoans. Here you’re going to find lots of excellent Chinese, Italian, and Mexican restaurants, plus other enticing choices!
In terms of its restaurants, Bridgeport can almost be thought of as an extension of Chinatown. In fact, Bridgeport has a distinctly northern Chinese food scene, which involves a large variety of dumplings and hearty meat dishes. Here are a couple that I’ve tried.
This northern Chinese restaurant serves a variety of dishes. After looking at their menu, I couldn’t resist trying a plate of their lamb dumplings. They were delicious and filling, especially with garlic and vinegar dipping sauces. This kind of dumpling isn’t very bready, but there were large portions of meat inside each one!
Potsticker House is one of Bridgeport’s most interesting Chinese restaurants since they explicitly specialize in dumplings (and their Chinese name makes clear that they serve northern-style dumplings).
I ordered a serving of “dālián huǒshāo” (褡褳火燒), something I’ve never tried before. Apparently, it’s a type of dumpling uncommon enough that its Wikipedia page has no English translation! On their menu, they’re called “house special long dumplings,” and I thought they were pretty good! They had a meat filling and had a relatively crispy outer skin.
At this Chinese restaurant in the center of Bridgeport, I enjoyed a plate of fried rice and lamb dumplings. Both were good, but the dumplings were more generic than the ones at Northern Taste or Potsticker House.
Four Seasons Dumpling Chinese Restaurant
This dumpling house is hard to miss with its eye-catching orange storefront on South Halsted Street. At Four Seasons, choose between fried or boiled dumplings filled with a variety of meat and veggie options. Their menu also has lots of other classic Chinese dishes.
The boiled dumplings at Four Seasons are similar to the ones at Northern City, but I have to admit I thought they were better here. I ordered a plate of lamb and dill dumplings, and the slight sourness from the dill perfectly complemented the lamb. With vinegar, soy sauce, and chili oil to dip them in, these dumplings offer a deliciously full range of flavor!
Min's Noodle House
Min’s Noodle House specializes in Chongqing-style dishes, which means they’re spicy! Try their signature Chungking Noodles with your choice of protein in a spicy soup, and if you’re really hungry, you won’t want to miss their delicious deep-fried baozi.
Mexico Steak House
This restaurant may be a little out of the way on Bridgeport’s northwestern edge, but the food here is phenomenal! They specialize in carne asada, which you can order in a variety of styles. Pictured here is their tender and juicy tampiqueña steak topped with melted cheese. If you’re looking for authentic Mexican food and friendly service for reasonable prices, go check this place out!
Antique Taco Bridgeport
This cozy little place serves gourmet tacos and delicious margaritas! Choose from a variety of options including al pastor chicken, pork carnitas, and crispy fish. The three I tried the first time I went were all so good and fresh!
Gio's Cafe and Deli
Gio’s is located on a quiet, residential street corner, but it’s such a cool hidden gem of a restaurant! Inside, you’ll find beautiful murals painted on the dining room walls, plus an entire grocery section where you can buy Italian deli items, pasta, and other ingredients to take home.
When I went for lunch one day, I ordered their eggplant parmesan sandwich with peppers, and it was so good! I can’t wait to go back and try some of their pasta dishes!
Other Restaurants To Try
This is the only Taiwanese restaurant I’m aware of in Chicago, which makes it a pretty unique spot! If you go, definitely try their bubble tea with your meal. I was curious about their bento box lunch sets, and the chicken and veggies were all really good. They also serve good fries if you’re really hungry!
GREEK PRIME Kitchen & Bar
If it’s Greek food you crave, this bar and grill is where you need to go! Greek Prime makes an excellent gyro combo with pita bread, crispy fries, a salad, and tzatziki sauce. They also have desserts on display in front that I really want to try next time I’m there!
Where to Get Coffee in Bridgeport
Not only does Bridgeport have a vibrant food scene, but it’s also home to some cool coffee shops. Check out one of the following places if you need a caffeinated beverage!
Jackalope Coffee & Tea House
Jackalope Coffee is a fun and colorful coffee shop that has ample indoor seating space. If you’ve been wandering around Bridgeport on foot and need to take a rest, head to Jackalope for a latte or a pastry.
I love the vibe of this coffee shop that makes smooth and delicious lattes. Like Jackalope Coffee & Tea House, Bridgeport Coffeehouse also has lots of indoor and outdoor seating. It’s honestly my go-to for coffee whenever I’m in the neighborhood!
Bad Owl Coffee Roasters
Bad Owl Coffee Roasters is located on South Morgan Street, one of Bridgeport’s most interesting side streets. Its big windows and striking logo captured my attention, so I had to go in and try it! Based on how busy it is, Bad Owl seems to be a local favorite that offers a variety of food options and unique latte creations.
The Stockyard Coffeehouse
Address: 558 W 37th St, Chicago, IL 60609
The Stockyard Coffeehouse may be a little out of the way, but coffee lovers should definitely venture down this way to try it! They have a full drink menu of interesting flavored lattes, including options like rose and pistachio.
Things to Do in Bridgeport
Now that we’ve thoroughly covered Bridgeport’s food and coffee options, let’s finally take a look at some other attractions in the neighborhood.
Bridgeport Art Center & Chicago Maritime Museum
Address: 1200 W 35th St, Chicago, IL 60609
Bridgeport Art Center website: https://bridgeportart.com/
Chicago Maritime Museum website: https://www.chicagomaritimemuseum.org/
Ticket price (Nov. 2021): $10 per adult to enter the museum, other parts of the building are free to enter
The Bridgeport Art Center is an interesting albeit odd art collective on the banks of Bubbly Creek. I say it’s odd because even though they have art on display both inside and out, the building was pretty empty when I went to visit.
It seems as though this large industrial building is mainly studio space for artists to work and sell their creations. However, it felt weird to be wandering around inside with so few other people there. Perhaps it’s busier on the weekends, but I wouldn’t exactly call this a museum or art gallery even though things are on display.
In the basement of the building, you can find the Chicago Maritime Museum. This small collection of boating artifacts is a great place to learn about the Chicago River, Lake Michigan, and all of the boating and shipping activity that made Chicago what it is today.
The museum also has lots of information about the SS Eastland, a passenger ship that capsized in 1915 on the Chicago River, killing almost a thousand people. It’s not exactly a lighthearted topic, but it is an important part of Chicago history that I wasn’t aware of before visiting this museum.
Henry C. Palmisano Nature Park
Address: 2700 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608
Bridgeport’s largest park offers a few short trails and a fishing pond. But my favorite part of Henry C. Palmisano Nature Park is its great view of the Chicago skyline! Since Bridgeport is southwest of the Loop, you’ll get to see the skyline from a vantage point that most tourists don’t. The park is also on a hill, which makes the view even better.
Bridgeport has lots of pretty churches dispersed throughout its residential streets. Travelers who enjoy architecture will want to keep an eye out for them as they explore the neighborhood.
In particular, the St. Mary of Perpetual Help Catholic Church is probably the most stunning church in Bridgeport. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be open to visitors during the day the way cathedrals sometimes are in Europe or Latin America. I’m sure the interior is just as stunning as its teal dome and ornate spires.
First things first: I’ve always felt safe in Bridgeport, although I do exercise normal precautions in the area (as I do in all parts of Chicago). With that said, I’ve mostly explored during daylight hours.
However, you need to be aware that the area surrounding Guaranteed Rate Field can be exceptionally quiet when there’s not a baseball game happening. As such, I don’t recommend hanging around there.
If you plan to take the CTA Red Line to or from Bridgeport, use the Sox-35th Station and walk directly along West 35th Street. There’s no reason to walk around to the south side of the stadium, which runs adjacent to Wentworth Gardens.
In general, there is more foot traffic if you use the CTA Orange Line (Halsted Station) to get to Bridgeport, and I prefer this to taking the Red Line train.
Now You're Ready To Go Check Out Bridgeport!
If you’re the kind of traveler (or Chicago local) who enjoys exploring off the beaten path, Bridgeport is a great option! It’s conveniently located, and there are lots of interesting things to discover, both food-related and not.
Even though I’ve been to Bridgeport a dozen times or more to research for this post, I’m still not done exploring the neighborhood. With that in mind, I’ll be updating this post if I find anything noteworthy! Have you been to Bridgeport before? Leave a comment below and let me know! Thanks for reading!
This post was published on Nov 24, 2021